FRHI HOTELS IN MAKKAH PREPARE TO WELCOME HAJJ PILGRIMS
FRHI targets independent Gulf travellers as holy city prepares for millions undertaking the annual pilgrimage
DUBAI, September 2015: FRHI Hotels & Resorts is set to increase the number of independent Gulf travellers experiencing its hotels in Makkah, as the holy city prepares for a surge of visitors during Hajj.
As the company’s three hotels - Fairmont Makkah Clock Royal Tower, Raffles Makkah Palace and the Swissôtel Makkah - in the Abraj Al Bait complex make final preparations for the annual influx of Hajj pilgrims, Ahmed Hozaien, Managing Director for FRHI in Makkah, said that part of the FRHI’s overall growth strategy is to increase the proportion of guests who book directly from the hotels from the current level of 40 percent.
Many of these independent travellers come from within Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, and tend to book all year round, not just during the peak holy periods of Hajj and Ramadan, he said.
“Our goal is to increase the number of room sales from the individual guests’ category who book directly without using a tour agent or travel office,” said Hozaien. “The individual guests represent 40 percent of our business today”.
“We’re particularly keen to attract more independent travellers from GCC countries including here in Saudi Arabia, so we’re aiming to raise awareness in this market.”
“Our main Middle East strategy is to maintain our reputation as a word-class hospitality group operating the three best and most known luxury hotels in Makkah. We want to be regarded as the landmark hospitality company among Makkah’s hotel offerings.”
FRHI’s luxury hotels in Makkah – the Fairmont Makkah Clock Royal Tower, the Raffles Makkah Palace and the Swissôtel Makkah – account for 3,000 rooms in total, which makes up half of the number of guestrooms available in the prestigious Abraj Al Bait, located in the Haram area of the city.
The Fairmont and Raffles hotels in Makkah have welcomed more than 2.5 million pilgrims since opening five years ago. Many are attracted by the hotels’ panoramic views, unrivalled quality of service in addition to the proximity to Al Haram Mosque, the closest of any hotel.
The three FRHI hotels are regarded as distinct among Makkah’s over 400 hotels. The Fairmont Makkah Clock Royal Tower is noted for its stunning all-round views, while the Raffles Makkah Palace offers a direct view of the entire Haram Mosque and the Al Kaaba Al Sharifa, which is unmatched by any other hotel. The Swissôtel Makkah is Saudi Arabia’s largest hotel, with 1,488 rooms.
Each hotel offers a wide diversity of room types, ranging from 36 square meters up to 160 square meters for suites at Fairmont Makkah Clock Royal Tower, and 200 square meters to 300 square meters for villas at Raffles Makkah Palace. In addition, the Raffles Makkah Palace offers guests the option of staying in one of its exclusive royal suites during their Hajj visit.
The Makkah collection is also distinctive in providing comfort and accessibility for disabled or handicapped guests during their stay. All guestrooms include a Braille system for visually impaired guests, while public areas, including areas restaurants enjoy wheelchair access.
This year’s 10-day Hajj pilgrimage takes place from 13 – 23 September, and the FRHI hotels are ready for the enormous feat of welcoming and looking after thousands of new guests each day.
One of the more unique challenges faced by colleagues is serving special Hajj meals for up to 7,000 people at the same time.
“To be able to serve such an influx of guests at the same time and to assure that we’ve succeeded expectations requires a lot of forward planning.” said Hozaien. “We’re committed to our guests needs during this sacred time and delivering the renowned service which means that all staff are fully trained and qualified.
Makkah’s religious tourism and hospitality sector is expected to grow as the expansions of Jaddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport and Al Haram Mosque, and the construction of the new Makkah Metro system raises the holy city’s capacity for visitors.
Hozaien said: “This will not only support, but also refresh Saudi Arabia’s economy with huge financial returns and will open a vast number of job vacancies in Makkah, especially for Saudi nationals.”
FRHI Makkah has seen a marked increase in occupancy and revenue in the first half of this year, compared with the same period in 2014, according to Hozaien.
Last year, the company announced plans to increase its presence in Saudi Arabia with the opening of Fairmont Riyadh Business Gate (2016), Swissôtel Jeddah (2017), Raffles Jeddah (2018), and Fairmont Jeddah (2018)
About FRHI Hotels & Resorts
FRHI Hotels & Resorts (FRHI) is a leading luxury hotel management company that operates more than 130 hotels and branded residential offerings globally under the Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel brands. The company’s distinctive portfolio of luxury and upper upscale hotels features celebrated icons, world-class resorts and stylish city center hotels. Some notable hotels include Fairmont Dubai, Raffles Singapore, Swissôtel The Bosphorus, Fairmont San Francisco and London’s The Savoy. Focused on growing its distinctive hotel brands, the company is also developing new hotels in key locations around the world including exciting projects in China, Russia, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United States. The company also manages Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel branded luxury private residence clubs, whole-ownership residences and serviced residences properties.